Jen Chen | KCUR

Jen Chen

Associate Producer, Central Standard

Ways to Connect

Segment 1: The diner-style burger.

The news that Shake Shack is coming to Kansas City has sent people in a tizzy. We take a Shake Shack fan to Snack Shack in Downtown Overland Park. Then, a talk with Michael Corvino, a James Beard Award semifinalist, about the cheeseburger on his menu that's earning raves.

Paul Andrews / http://paulandrewsphotography.com/

Enrique Chi, frontman of the Kansas City-based band Making Movies, has had a busy year.

The band released its second album, “I Am Another You,” last spring. Produced by Steve Berlin of Los Lobos, the record made it to #3 on Billboard's Latin Album chart.

Enrique Chi

Feb 16, 2018

Meet Enrique Chi, the frontman of Making Movies.

Courtesy of St. Luke's Health System

We know we need a good night's sleep. It’s good for our health, our cognition and productivity and our relationships.

It's so important that now, some Kansas City companies want to help their employees sleep better at night. The KC Chamber of Commerce is hosting a forum on sleep for the business community on Thursday morning. (Alas, it starts at 7:30 a.m.)

Katherine Lim / Flickr -- CC

Breakfast: is it the most important meal of the day or the most tasty meal of the day? Whatever your thoughts, the breakfast scene is changing in Kansas City, offering more interesting options.

"I think people are going out more for breakfast," said KCUR Food Critic Mary Bloch. "I think part of the reason it's changing is because coffee is such a big thing now. And you have to have something to eat with your coffee."

On Friday's Central Standard, Bloch, along with Food Critic Bonjwing Lee, searched out the best breakfast spots in and around Kansas City.

Marco Verch / Google Images -- CC

From Twinkies to smoothies: If you grew up in Kansas City, you may remember the Wonder Hostess Thrift Shop Bakery on Troost. We visit Ruby Jean's Juicery, which has opened in that spot. Then, hear about some of the other new restaurants opening on Troost.

Plus: the Food Critics search out the best breakfast dishes in and around Kansas City.

Guests:

On our First Friday arts show: a local artist has been keeping a dream journal for over 40 years. In his new exhibit, he's brought recurring objects from his dreams to life through sculpture. Then, we talk to the star of a one-woman show about fashion icon Diana Vreeland, and a band conductor on how his group keeps the Kansas City sound alive ... and how they're taking a step to address the gender imbalance in jazz.

Guests:

public domain / Flickr -- Google Images

Chinese food in the United States has become as American as apple pie. Or crab Rangoon (which was probably invented here).

Since its earliest days in the U.S., when it arrived with immigrants who came for the Gold Rush, Chinese food has been maligned ... but ultimately embraced and changed into the quintessential Americanized version that's popular on menus all over the country.

public domain / Flickr -- Google Images

Hear the story behind Springfield-style cashew chicken: we talk to the chef whose father, inspired by the food of the Ozarks, invented the dish. Then, meet a local tea house owner who travels to China to select his tea leaves from a friend's farm.

Plus: our Food Critics search out the best Chinese food in and around Kansas City.

Guests:

fdecomite / Flickr -- CC

The game of marbles harkens back to a different era.

And the National Museum of Toys/Miniatures in Kansas City is bringing it back — at least through next January.

“Playing for Keeps” features artifacts from the national marble tournaments that the Veterans of Foreign Wars organized for boys.

In addition to the exhibition, the museum is also hosting regular game nights for grown-ups and training sessions for anyone who wants to be a “mibster” (a master marble player).

Paul Andrews / www.paulandrewsphotography.com

Sheri "Purpose" Hall is a spoken word poet, an author, an ordained minister and an activist. She's represented Kansas City in national poetry slams and recently, a video of her performing one of her poems, "Irregular Rape Poem," has gone viral. Hear her story.

Guest:

Foodista / Google Images -- CC

It's definitely soup and stew season. And there are plenty of both on local menus.

Whether you're in the mood for a hearty bowl of burnt end chili or a brothy pho, you can find something lovely and warm to ward off the frigid temps.

Of course, don't forget the bread (or savory doughnut) for soppin' and dippin'.

On Friday's Central Standard, KCUR's Food Critics searched out the best soups and stews in and around Kansas City.

Here are their recommendations:

Ivette Degollado / Flickr -- CC

A chef tells us about the "secret" off-menu cornbread at his restaurant, and we visit a local Ethiopian/Caribbean place to find out more about its braised oxtail dish. Then, the Food Critics search out the best soups and stews in and around Kansas City.

Guests:

In our January arts show: we hear more about a new exhibition at The Nelson that features artifacts from the tombs of kings of ancient China — including a burial suit that's made from over 4000 pieces of jade.

Paul Andrews / www.paulandrewsphotography.com

Scott Hawley is a geneticist at the Stowers Institute. In this encore presentation, we hear how his career has its roots in a high school gym class ... and how that influences his work today.

Plus: get to know the man behind your morning commute. He shares a story about the time he spent New Year's Eve playing Missile Command.

Guests:

Daniel Chow / Flickr -- CC

It’s the time of year when you may need to feed a crowd — perhaps for holiday gatherings or for college bowl game-watching. And what better way than with pizza?

Shelby L. Bell / Google Images -- CC

It's the time of year when KC expats come home for the holidays. We take a look at the restaurant meals that they have to have during their visit, and a chat with a KC native whose New York barbeque restaurant has become a hangout for homesick Kansas Citians.

Plus: we say goodbye to Fun House Pizza in Raytown, which is closing after 53 years, and our Food Critics search out the best pizza in and around town.

Charvex / Google Images -- CC

If you voted in Kansas City, Missouri, in November, you may remember being asked whether the city should remove two pieces of land from the park system.

Those two parcels of land were “no longer necessary or appropriate for park, parkway or boulevard use.”

What does that mean? And who determines what park properties should be removed?

Paul Andrews / www.paulandrewsphotography.com

Today, Stuart Swetland is the president of Donnelly College, which U.S. News & World Report recently recognized as the most diverse college in the Midwest. But in 1985, when TWA Flight 847 was hijacked, he was a Navy officer who was called to participate in a rescue mission with grim chances for survival. Hear his story.

Guest:

  • Stuart Swetland, President, Donnelly College

Jules / Flickr -- CC

What's not to like about cheese? First of all, it's probably the one food item for which "ooey-gooey" was invented. (And if not, let's just say it was).

Whether you like it melted in a sandwich or by itself with a glass of wine or beer, cheese is having quite a moment in KC.

Cheese + Beer

Dec 8, 2017
Kitchen Life of a Navy Wife / Flickr -- CC

Forget wine and cheese ... now there's beer and cheese. A local cheese expert tells us about the best beer and cheese pairings. Plus: a visit to a classic KC restaurant that brought back its fondue nights from the 1970s, then the Food Critics search out the best cheese dishes in and around town.

Guests:

On this December arts show: the story behind "Uplift," a new exhibit that's inspired by ladders, and a local science fiction writer on her book, which takes place in the aftermath of the second civil war in the United States.

Plus: pajamas and punk rock at the museum? The Nelson hosts a pj party for grown-ups, featuring the music of The Architects. We catch up with drummer Adam Phillips ... and talk about fuzzy onesies.

Guests:

The McFadden brothers are musicians, singers and tap dancers. They learned how to tap from their father, the legendary Smilin' Jimmy McFadden, and they've just received a 2017 Living Legends awards from the Tapology Music Institute, a national organization. Hear their story, which starts at 29th and Euclid.

Guests:

ilaria / Flickr -- CC

Italian food. Those two words may bring up images of a pasta dish with red sauce, or perhaps a thick square of lasagna. Throw in a glass of wine, and you're set for a cold winter night.

Some local chefs are also putting a creative spin on the cuisine. From old-school favorites to some new takes, our food critics on KCUR’s Central Standard searched out the best Italian food in and around Kansas City.

Here are their recommendations:

alanagkelly / Flickr -- CC

Hear the story behind a classic Kansas City restaurant, then visit a new cafe that's located inside an antique mall. Plus: our Food Critics search out the best Italian food in and around KC, from beloved old-school favorites to interesting new takes on the cuisine.

Guests:

Phil Prater / Public Domain

On KCUR’s Central Standard, host Gina Kaufmann spoke to Reverend Debbie Buchholz, co-founder of Deaf International, and William Ennis, assistant professor of history at Gallaudet University, about the history of persecution against people with deafness in this country — and the milestones along the path to equal rights.

We talk with artist Amy Sherald, who has two paintings at the Kemper Museum (one of which is part of a new portraiture exhibit). Sherald is also painting the official portrait of Michelle Obama for the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery.

In food circles, there have been a lot of questions about the idea of authenticity and appropriation. We explore the intersection of food, race and culture.

Guests:

Joy / Flickr -- CC

It’s a great time of year for pie.

Whether you’re celebrating the holidays with a traditional pumpkin pie, or warding off the chill with a hearty chicken pot pie, it’s amazing what can go under, over or between flaky, golden crusts.

On KCUR’s Central Standard, our Food Critics searched out the best pies — both sweet and savory — in and around Kansas City.

Here are their recommendations:

Mary Bloch, Around the Block:

Pumpkin + Pies

Oct 27, 2017
Ervins Strauhmanis / Flickr -- CC

Pumpkins are everywhere. They're being carved, painted and eaten by squirrels all over town. But what about cooking them? Two local chefs share their tips for savory pumpkin dishes.

Plus: a visit to Rye to learn more about pie crusts, then the Food Critics search out the best pies — both sweet and savory — in and around KC.

Guests:

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